Op-Ed: 'And You Shall Tell Your Children'
Along with the blessings for a Happy Festival of Spring and Freedom, and the joint prayer for a Jewish Spring and national freedom, we would like to share some of our thoughts in the spirit of the holiday’s commandment - ‘And you shall tell your children’ (Exodus 13,8)- with you, the supporters and advocates of the Jewish communities and the Land of Israel.
We are often invited by various youth groups for meetings and joint discussions, where we are asked to present the position of the “settlers” i.e of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
Basic questions come up in these meetings, such as: why are we here in the Land of Israel? What is our overall position on the Arab-Israeli conflict? What is our solution to the complex reality? etc.
These meetings are fascinating. Many times these meetings are the first chance these teenagers, who come from all over the country, have to meet a “settler” in person. Even though each group has it’s isolated islands of knowledge and familiarity with the real, historic facts, we mostly encounter alarming ignorance.
When we review modern Israeli history with the students and raise the issue of our right to this land from the international aspect, we can feel the students’ eyes open in complete and utter surprise. Words like “the San Remo Conference” sound like the name of an exotic tourist location to them. These youngsters, the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, have not heard of the fact that Britain, as the mandatory power, was given the responsibility to implement the Balfour Declaration at San Remo.
Granted, our teenagers have heard something vague at some point or another regarding “the British Mandate”, but they aren’t aware of the fact that in the resolution about handing over the mandate it says that “the Mandate will be responsible for fulfilling the declaration made by the British government on February 2nd 1917, which was accepted by the other Powers, to assist in the establishment of “the national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel”.
As weird as it may seem, it turns out that there aren’t many students in Israel who know about the fact that the British were bound by international law to establish a national home for the Jews, in Israel, on both sides of the Jordan River.
The conversation continues and we discuss the colloquial term “Palestine”, and here as well, we encounter total ignorance. Very few students know that that name was given to the region by the Romans, after the destruction of the 2nd Temple, with the deliberate intent of erasing the fact that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews from the consciousness of the general population at the time.
The students were amazed to discover that the word “Palestine” is simply a secular term meant to describe a geographic region, the biblical Land of Eretz Yisrael. When we tell them that there was never a “Palestinian people”, that the term was only invented after the Six Day War, and that until then the only word used was “Arabs” - they have difficulty believing us.
When we quote famous Arab leaders who openly admitted that the term “Palestinians” is pure fiction, the eye and ears of the students open in complete surprise. They were never told about Zuheir Mohsen, senior member of the PLO, who said in the 1970s:
“There is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. We emphasize the Palestinian issue only for political reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is simply a new tool in our ongoing war against Israel”.
A few days ago, we had another one of these meetings, after which we talked with the teachers and we wondered how such ignorance could exist in our schools. One teacher told us, in painful sincerity: “The topic of the San Remo Convention isn’t emphasized because of politics. [They] don’t want the students to internalize that we have not only a historical right to this land but also an international right to this land. Not to mention the fact that the students of Israel will never be told that the Palestinians are a late invention. It may be historically accurate, but it isn’t politically correct…”.
The above are only a few examples. It turns out that entire chapters of the history of the Jewish people in their land and the right of the Jewish People to its land, have been concealed and are intentionally being suppressed from the consciousness of Israeli students. Thus, a generation is being formed here which is receiving its information from the sedition and the lies and the distortions being spread across the internet and the hostile media, both in Israel and abroad.
Shmuel Katz wrote about this years ago in the Hebrew introduction to his book, ‘Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine’: “One of the riddles of our time is the indifference of Israeli statesmen towards the education failures in every matter regarding the teaching of the history of our people and our land, and their disregard of the incredible power of the propaganda. By doing so they have essentially assisted the Arab lie in overpowering the Jewish truth”.
Katz also quotes the late Nathan Alterman’s famous song, written shortly before his death, words that now sound prophetic:
The devil asked himself: This besieged,
How can I cope with him?
He is courageous and has practical skills.
Weapons, resourcefulness and wisdom.
And the devil continued: I shall not take away his power,
neither the reins nor a switch,
Not make him fear,
And not put dampers on him.
I shall do just this: dull his mind
And he will forget that justice is with him
On the eve of Passover 2014/5774, the campaign for the Land of Israel is in full swing. This campaign is primarily an informational, consciousness-oriented campaign.
We are tasked with the commandment of “And you shall tell your children” - to educate and teach the 4 Sons about the Exodus from Egypt, an exodus with the sole purpose of bringing the People of Israel to the G-d-given Biblical Homeland of Israel so they may live in it as sovereigns throughout its full breadth.
Sovereignty over the Land of Israel and its implementation will lead to a deeper awareness of our belonging to this land. As long as there is a political vacuum over parts of the homeland - the consciousness of the Israeli people, and especially that of the Israeli youth, is swept towards various distorted interpretations.
Only in isolated case, are they exposed to the full range of interpretations, but our right to the Land and our living connection with it are not an interpretation and are not a narrative, but rather pure historical truth which we must become familiar with every face and aspect of.
The People of Israel are unlike any other nation. While other nations, especially the European nations, disintegrate their nationalism and the “I” becomes the most important thing to them, the nationalism of the People of Israel has global role which is second to none. This nationalism is not egotistical. Our nationalism advances the entire world towards a better, loftier and more virtuous future. Our overall ambition is setting the world as the Kingdom of G-d.
In the meetings with our youth we discover a deep thirst to hear and understand. Even in the generation of screens and virtual multimedia, the souls of the youth of Israel were built to contain great ideals.
Israeli teenagers are drafted to the IDF at an age that is critical for their future, and the vast majority of them do so out of great love and an enormous sense of purpose. Withholding from them the information and truth surrounding the past and future of our people and our Biblical, historical and international rights to this land is no less than a grave injustice to them.
On Pessach, each and every one of us has an excellent opportunity to fulfill the commandment of “And you shall tell your children” and to bring up that which exalts our lives at the Seder table.
Wishing you a Happy and Kosher Pesach,
Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar